Open-sourced blueprints for civilization: English lesson plan

Marcin Jakubowski: Open-sourced blueprints for civilization

You are going to view a presentation from Ted.com. Technology Entertainment Design.

Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch. And that’s only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village (starting cost: $10,000).

1. Questions:

What are wikis?
What is open sourcing?
What are blueprints?
If I build something from scratch, what does it mean?

2. Vocab & Phrases

Open Source
bread ovens
circuit makers
we set out
a fraction of the cost

I was broke
low-cost tools
highly efficient
would last a lifetime
not designed for obsolescence

showing up

can unleash just massive amounts of human potential.
selling power back to the grid
a starter kit.

3. You are going to watch a full presentation.
This listening is for general comprehension. Please try to take notes.

Questions 2.

1. Where was he born?
2. How many machines do they hope to build?
3. Why did he start to build his own machines?
4. What happened after he published his information?
5. What does he say can change peoples´ lives?
6. What can 1 single DVD hold?
7. What are the implications of this idea?

4. You are going to listen to the presentation again but this time with the transcript from the presentation.

Marcin Jakubowski: Open-sourced blueprints for civilization

Hi, my name is Marcin — farmer, technologist. I was born in Poland, now in the U.S. I started a group called Open Source Ecology. We’ve identified the 50 most important machines that we think it takes for modern life to exist — things from tractors, bread ovens, circuit makers. Then we set out to create an open source, DIY, do it yourself version that anyone can build and maintain at a fraction of the cost. We call this the Global Village Construction Set.

So let me tell you a story. So I finished my 20s with a Ph.D. in fusion energy, and I discovered I was useless. I had no practical skills. The world presented me with options, and I took them. I guess you can call it the consumer lifestyle. So I started a farm in Missouri and learned about the economics of farming. I bought a tractor — then it broke. I paid to get it repaired — then it broke again. Then pretty soon I was broke too.

I realized that the truly appropriate, low-cost tools that I needed to start a sustainable farm and settlement just didn’t exist yet. I needed tools that were robust, modular, highly efficient and optimized, low-cost, made from local and recycled materials that would last a lifetime, not designed for obsolescence. I found that I would have to build them myself. So I did just that. And I tested them. And I found that industrial productivity can be achieved on a small scale.

So then I published the 3D designs, schematics, instructional videos and budgets on a wiki. Then contributors from all over the world began showing up, prototyping new machines during dedicated project visits. So far, we have prototyped eight of the 50 machines. And now the project is beginning to grow on its own.

We know that open source has succeeded with tools for managing knowledge and creativity. And the same is starting to happen with hardware too. We’re focusing on hardware because it is hardware that can change people’s lives in such tangible material ways. If we can lower the barriers to farming, building, manufacturing, then we can unleash just massive amounts of human potential.

That’s not only in the developing world. Our tools are being made for the American farmer, builder, entrepreneur, maker. We’ve seen lots of excitement from these people, who can now start a construction business, parts manufacturing, organic CSA or just selling power back to the grid. Our goal is a repository of published designs so clear, so complete, that a single burned DVD is effectively a civilization starter kit.

I’ve planted a hundred trees in a day. I’ve pressed 5,000 bricks in one day from the dirt beneath my feet and built a tractor in six days. From what I’ve seen, this is only the beginning.

If this idea is truly sound, then the implications are significant. A greater distribution of the means of production, environmentally sound supply chains, and a newly-relevant DIY maker culture can hope to transcend artificial scarcity. We’re exploring the limits of what we all can do to make a better world with open hardware technology.

Thank you.
Time 4:11

5. Discussion

Do you like this idea?
Do you think everyone can build a tractor?
Crowd sourcing and open sourcing are the latest trends to unify people, what´s your opinion?
Discuss the following idiom: Lao Tzu – “Give a Man a Fish, Feed Him For a Day. Teach a Man to Fish, Feed Him For a Lifetime”

6. Post class work

This presentation from Ted.com is available with subtitles and we suggest listening 1 time with subtitles and then another time with the English transcript on the right hand side. Make notes of unknown words and phrases and try to guess their meaning from context.

Email question: What is their final goal?

7.Using new vocabulary

Please use the vocab from sections 1 & 2 in the following sentences:

Group 1
Wikis, open sourcing, blueprints, build from scratch, ecology , tractor, we set out
DIY, a fraction of the cost, (to be) broke ,

1. Lego kits have to be ______________
2. I visited my uncle`s farm a long time ago and he taught me how to drive his __________
3. I am always ___________ in August because there are no English classes.
4. If you have a difficult technical problem you can try _____________ it on the internet and using a _________ format for others to edit.
5. In the beginning of the company ____________ to create a non profit structure.
6. I often use ___________ or instructions from Ikea to help me with _____ products.

Group 2

low-cost , robust, modular, highly efficient, optimized, last a lifetime, schematics
showing up, prototyping , unleash, a starter kit.

1. In order for it to survive the heavy rain we must build a ________ shelter.
2. I joined the gym (again) and this time they gave me a ____________
3. A good quality watch from Switerland should ______________
4. I would love to find a __________ and _______________ light bulb.
5. 90% of being consistent is just _____________
6. I have created my latest invention but I need to build a __________ and draw up the ____________.

8.Using the new vocab, discuss the following statements:

a). Ikea kits and using the instructions
b). The quality of modern tech products in comparison to other mechanical models, eg cameras.
c). The quality of life gained by living off the land.

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Justin Donlon

English Teacher & Content Developer Over 15 years of experience in engaging educational content

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